I’m a Clinical Assistant Professor within the Department of Public Health, Environments & Society at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and a Consultant in Public Health. After several years working at the Department of Health and Cabinet Office, I trained in public health within London before joining LSHTM. My PhD examined influences on the attendance of e-cigarette users at local stop smoking services, before I co-led an SPHR study focused on secondary school culture and pupil mental health in London. More recently, I have been involved in an NIHR project to systematically review evidence for the impact on public mental health of six major industries (tobacco, social media, alcohol, gambling, ultra-processed foods and fossil fuels). My ongoing research interests include adolescent mental health, addiction, health inequalities and the commercial determinants of health.
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Award Title: Mental Health Research Fellowship
Start date: 1 December 2022
End date: 31 March 2024
Location of Research: North East & North Cumbria, West of England, Greater Manchester and North-West London.
Other associated academic organisations: Supporting supervisors also based at Bristol University and Imperial College London
Project Title: Exploring the commercial determinants of children and young people’s mental health: a qualitative study into the intersecting impacts of vaping and TikTok
Brief Summary: Sharp rises in rates of depression, anxiety and self-harm have been seen amongst UK teens in recent years. Corporate influences on health, also known as ‘commercial determinants of health’ (CDoH) are key drivers of adult poor mental health and associated inequalities, but have been studied far less in the context of children and young people’s (CYP’s) mental health. Two CDoH areas with potential for considerable mental health harms on CYP specifically are the vaping industry and the social media industry. TikTok’s particularly explosive rise (over 1 billion global monthly users) has been driven by huge popularity with CYP but has received a paucity of research to date. The site’s proliferation of positively-framed videos about e-cigarettes, often fronted by influencers with particular appeal for CYP, means the intersection of these two industries is creating growing concerns for schools and local authorities. This fellowship therefore aims to examine how CYP experience the impacts of the ‘commercial determinants of health’ on their mental health, using the intersection of the vaping and social media industries as a highly topical case study.
- A series of initial interviews with key stakeholders to understand how organisations with a professional interest in this area view influences on CYP mental health from these industries.
- A rapid review of national policy/guidance, for later comparison and contrast with CYP interview data.
- A series of interviews with CYP to explore their lived experiences as key ‘markets’ for these two industries and any impacts this has on their mental health.
At its core, this study aims to give voice to the perspectives of CYP themselves on how these two industries and their products can impact on their mental health. Yet it will also shed light on any disconnects between the experiences and priorities voiced by CYP and the approaches government takes to these industries via national policies in these areas. The planned research therefore seeks to empower CYP to contribute to recommendations in this area that will be delivered directly to policymakers. Furthermore, by collating examples of best practice already being undertaken by schools and other CYP-focused organisations in this area, it will draw together valuable resources that can then be disseminated to CYP and stakeholders nationwide.